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UP FOR A CHALLENGE

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FORMER F/TOWN MAYOR: Peter Ngoma

Former Francistown Mayor Peter Ngoma is not holding any political office at the moment but he is hoping to be in parliament after the 2014 elections. In this interview with Dubani wa Dubani, he confirms that he will be giving the incumbent member of parliament for Tati West, Charles Tibone, a run for his money. He also airs his views about the current state of politics in Botswana.

What do you think of the state of politics in the country at the moment?
I don’t think there is a problem with our politics at the moment.  But if you think there are problems ask me about them and I will tell you my position.

One thing that is pointed out as being a sign of things not being quite right in our politics is the way politicians jump from party to party. Can you give us your comment on that?
That is true.  This thing is not new. It started happening may be 15 to 20 years ago.  That is when some people started seeing politics as a job from which they could make a living and live well with their children.  Certain politicians join other parties just to get a meal ticket and to amass wealth.

Is there any particular party that politicians join for such purposes?
Politicians have become so crafty at this game that they are always on the look -out for a party through which they can achieve their personal aspirations and will join any party that they think will serve that purpose for them as fast as possible.  Most want to see themselves as councilors, mayors or MPs and do not care about the people. That is why some are jumping from party to party. There are of course cases where one is expelled from a party because they wanted to correct something they felt is going against their party’s principles. It is different from when an individual leaves BDP for the BNF and when they realize that they can not attain their selfish interests then they join BCP.

Looking at opposition leaders would you say any of them is principled?
I respect Themba Joina, not because his party is growing but because he has not changed his stance ever since he founded MELS. Such a man deserves respect because he has stuck to what he believes in. As for others they keep changing colors so they don’t deserve respect.

When you left the BPP it was….
(Interrupts) I did not leave the BPP. I was expelled because I had stood against my then BPP colleague Motlatsi Molapisi for the Mayor’s office.  I had won the vote but was asked to resign as some people within the BPP felt I could not challenge him for the seat. I refused to resign because it was party policy that any party member can stand for office. If a colleague was holding office and one felt he was not carrying out the party’s mandate properly he was right to challenge. That is exactly what I did and was expelled from the BPP. Mind you I spent six months as a mayor without a party. I ended  up joining the BDP because during the time I had no party. I studied what other parties had to offer for Batswana and realized the BDP was the best party to join.  One thing that I have come to realize is all  these other parties are quick to criticise the BDP yet they have nothing else to offer Batswana. For any party to take over from the ruling party it must have clear programmes that Batswana understand.  Insulting the BDP won’t help the opposition in any way.

The BDP is accused of paying politicians to join their party…
(Interrupts) If we are accused of paying politicians to join us then BCP has beaten us this time around. People are joining the BCP in numbers just as they did when the BMD was formed and nobody is accusing those parties of buying politicians.  Accusing the BDP of buying politicians is just petty talk meant to tarnish our image. Trust me many more  people will leave the BDP  but will quickly come back because they will fast realize that opposition parties have nothing to offer but talk, which as they say is cheap.

What’s your take on talk that certain  people are joining the BDP because they have been promised jobs or money?
When I Joined the BDP there was talk that they had bought me a Mercedes Benz as payment for joining them which was all lies. I bought the Benz from transport magnate Khanda before I was expelled from the BPP, you can go and cross check that with him. The BDP has never bought anybody and will never do.

The opposition seems fragmented. Do you see that as a bad or good thing?
I do not know about my party but personally it troubles me a lot. A strong opposition party would give Batswana an alternative to the BDP and would keep us on our toes to deliver. Batswana also need another party to trust with the mandate to run the country if it happens that they lose faith in the BDP but at the moment they have no alternative .

Are you not afraid that a strong opposition will take over power from the BDP?
Not at all, whoever takes over from the BDP if that ever happens must have something better to offer to the people and at the moment no party has that.

A lot of opposition politicians accuse President Khama of making one man decisions as they say he does not consult. Some say those who are supposed to give him advice are afraid of him. What is your comment on that?
If there is anybody who listens in this country it is president Khama. All these programmes such as Ipelegeng that the opposition are always criticising him about are benefiting the people because there was consultation. Tell me would you accuse such a person of not listening. This is the first time we have seen such a man in this country. I do not believe that those around him are afraid of him because from my interaction with him at various forums he has proven to be a person who can listen to anybody whether they agree with him or not. As for me I am not afraid of him. He is my president. I respect him. There is a difference between fear and respect.

Let’s talk about 2014 elections are you going to contest?
Yes I will stand as a candidate in Tati West

Is Charles Tibone stepping down?
I don’t know but my party allows for the incumbent to be challenged in primary elections

Ok, on a lighter note Mr. Ngoma, you are known to be a Tafic supporter and the team is not doing well. How do feel about the team’s performance at the moment?
If you call me a Tafic supporter you are belittling me. Tafic is in my blood and in times like these I am pained and spend sleepless nights wondering what I can do to help the team.